Gay couples ask N.J. court to follow suit

Posted: July 05, 2013

TRENTON - Six gay couples and their children asked a New Jersey Judge Wednesday to force the state to recognize gay marriage, arguing that the case has become more urgent after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last week.

The plaintiffs say the case is so pressing that no trial is needed to weigh the arguments that the civil unions now recognized in the state fall short.

The filing is no surprise as the ruling to strike down key parts of the federal Defense of Marriage Act last week brought new intensity and urgency to both legal and political action over gay marriage in New Jersey.

The state Supreme Court ruled in 2006 that committed gay couples are entitled to "all the rights and benefits that married heterosexual couples enjoy," but the ruling did not require recognition of gay marriage. Lawmakers responded by creating civil unions.

The couples sued in 2011, saying civil unions are poorly understood and fail to produce those equal rights.

The case was at least months away from trial but lawyers for the plaintiffs say the Supreme Court ruling in U.S. v. Windsor changes the situation because it requires the federal government to deliver benefits of marriage - from joint tax filing to next-of-kin notification for members of the military - to married gay couples.

 That, lawyers Lawrence Lustberg and Hayley Gorenberg say, means that the state is blocking gay couples from equal benefits that the state's top court has said they are entitled to.

The state Attorney General's Office declined to comment Wednesday on the filing. The state's response is due Aug. 2 and arguments are scheduled for Aug. 15.

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